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The BBC's Mike Donkin reports from Gonesse
"In the darkness, smoke still rises from the site where the Air France Concorde came down"
 real 28k

The BBC's James Robbins
"A series of massive explosions"
 real 56k

The BBC's David Shukman
"An aviation legend"
 real 56k

The BBC's Tom Hagler
"Investigators will aim to piece together the final moments"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 00:03 GMT 01:03 UK
Concorde black boxes found
Concorde before crash
The plane came down trailing flames behind it
French air investigators have recovered the two black box data recorders from the Air France Concorde jet which plunged into a hotel just minutes after taking-off from Paris, killing 113 people.

Air France in Germany:
+49 89 97620
German Foreign Ministry:
+49 1888 17 4600;
+49 1888 17 4899
German Embassy in Paris:
+33 1 53 83 45 00
The New York-bound supersonic jet crashed spouting a trail of flames after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport, shortly before 1700 local time (1500 GMT) on Tuesday.

Air France said all 100 passengers, most of them Germans, and nine French crew members had perished in the crash, while a further four people were killed on the ground. At least a dozen other people were injured at the hotel.

Experts are trying to determine the identities of the charred bodies, as relatives prepare to fly to Paris.

The disaster was the first crash in 30 years of service for the Anglo-French airliner, which flies at twice the speed of sound.

Air France and British Airways suspended Concorde flights following the crash.

Engine on fire

Flight AF4590 crashed in flames into the Hotelissimo hotel in the town of Gonesse north of Paris, two minutes after taking-off from Charles de Gaulle.

Air France said 96 Germans, one Austrian, two Danes and an American were on board the plane.

They were travelling on a flight to John F Kennedy airport specially chartered by German tour operator Deilmann, and had been set to join a cruise ship in New York bound for Ecuador.

An emotional Peter Deilmann, who heads the tour company, told German TV he was "deeply shocked" by the disaster.
Hotel debris
Parts of the hotel were reduced to burning rubble

Air France said one of the plane's four engines had caught fire on take-off.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a fireball trailing from an engine on the aircraft's left-side, and that it was not able to gain sufficient altitude before it crashed.

"When the plane crashed, there was a huge ball of fire and an enormous plume of black smoke," one said.

Sections of the hotel were reduced to rubble and twisted metal, while the blackened hulk of the Concorde was barely recognisable.

Horrifying scenes

Reports said emergency workers were facing horrifying scenes.

Aerial view
An aerial view of the crash site
One emergency worker told the AFP news agency: "Everything is concentrated in a small area, 30 metres long. It's a pile of wood, metal and charred cement, with foul-smelling, thick smoke still coming from it and wooden beams from the hotel's framework jutting out.

"Everything is black. It's hot. In the pile, through the smoke, you can see the nose of the Concorde. A few metres away, a part of the cockpit and some flight instruments are visible," he said.

French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot said an official investigation had been set up and that a judicial inquiry - under the local state prosecutor - had also been started as a matter of routine.

Plane inspected

The crash comes just one day after British Airways confirmed hairline cracks had been discovered in the wings of all seven of its Concorde fleet.

Concorde facts
First plane flew in 1969
13 supersonic jets operated by BA and Air France
Flies above turbulence at almost 60,000 feet
Crosses Atlantic at 1,350mph in less than 3.5 hours
However, the head of Air France said Tuesday's crash was linked to an engine problem and apparently had nothing to do with the cracks.

A BBC correspondent in Paris says the crash plane was inspected only four days ago, and no problems were found. It has been in operation since 1980 and has been subject to a number of inspections recently.

The Concorde has been considered among the world's safest planes since its launch in 1969.

Its only major scare came in 1979, when a bad landing blew out a plane's tyres. The incident led to a design modification.

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See also:

26 Jul 00 | Europe
Engines may hold the answer
26 Jul 00 | Europe
Right place at the wrong time
25 Jul 00 | Europe
Germany stunned by Concorde crash
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